Barking Blondes: Jabs, child substitutes and Titres tests
However, a call to our radio show from a distressed listener convinced that her dog’s immune system had been seriously compromised from over vaccinating, encouraged a heated debate. Is vaccination the same as immunization?
“Can’t let the puppy out til he has had his jabs,” is a familiar phrase.
But what exactly is in the “jabs” and is one jab enough? Should the dog then have regular boosters? If immunization is a hot topic for parents then the same is true for pet owners.
It’s ironic that vaccination is associated with responsible ownership and protecting your pet from diseases such as Parvo Virus, Distemper and Hepatitis. However, whilst it’s best to avoid all the above, none of them are fatal for healthy, adult, dogs. And 15 minutes into the show and phone lines began to buzz with listeners who believed their pets had suffered adverse reactions to vaccines.
Joining us was Professor Ron Schultz of Wisconsin’s Vet School, a leading light in the field of immunization in humans as well as animals as well as immunologist, Dr Jean Dodds. Together, they put forward the case that our dogs are immune for life after their puppy jabs. Schultz and Dodds believe that vaccinating on top of these initial shots wont give your dog added immunity.
In the same way a child is inoculated once for measles, the same science is true for animals. Professor Ron and Dr Jean Dodds pioneered studies on vaccination since the early 1970s, when many vaccines were first introduced, and scientifically proved, how over vaccination causes side effects and auto-immune issues. Smaller breeds and older dogs being more susceptible, proves that certain ‘families’ are more vulnerable than others. It’s clear that when vaccinating any animal it’s about the individual and every dog is different.
This research led to the WSAVA the World Small Animal Vet Association issuing guidelines, suggesting vaccination should be no less than every three years, not annually. A slight shift, despite Schultz and Dodds’ studies that in 99.9 per cent of cases, dogs’ puppy jabs give them immunity for life.
If you are confused by all this and if your vet favours boosters then you can take control of your dog’s vaccination program by using a Titres test. This is a simple blood test that dog and cat owners use to test and prove their dog’s immunity. Titres monitors the levels of serological and cellular immunity in the blood for core vaccines; so its results reveal your dogs’s immunity to Parvo, Distemper and Hepatitis. Despite giving us peace of mind surrounding our pet’s immunity, without the need to vaccinate or booster, Titres are not routinely suggested by all vets.
Until recently,Titres relied on external laboratories for diagnostics. This took time and was quite expensive. But now ‘in house’ Titres have been introduced costing no more than a booster jab with results provided ‘while you wait’. Making Titres more price accessible should encourage vets to suggest it as the first step before vaccination.
Some rescue centres dealing with dogs’ unknown histories, are embracing the potential of Titres to determine the immunity, and reduce the need to unnecessarily jab. Forward thinking vets even use Titres Test results, with a certificate, to prove your dog’s immunity required for boarding kennels in lieu of an immunisation certificate.
With information readily available online, it’s advisable for owners to research Titres, and how they can help save your dog from over-immunisation. Hopefully vets and insurers will take the view that just as you wouldn’t give your child the MMR jab more than once in its lifetime, the same is true for dogs and cats.
‘Barking at the Moon’ is on every Thursday from 3-4pm on BBC London 94.9fm
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